my creative life
Andy Jex on Butch Cassidy, Hulme Crescents, black comedy and Drum & Bass
The TBWA\London chief creative officer shares *four* things that inspire him creatively
09 May 2023
I’m going to start by cheating. I’ve picked four references instead of three.
Film: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
I first watched this with my Dad. One of the first movies I watched all the way through. I recently watched it with my son. Apart from being great fun, it’s made up of all the things that makes ads great too. William Goldman’s dialogue is clever and memorable. It looks stunning. The music adds so much - Bacharach does “Raindrops keep falling on my head”, say no more. It’s full of iconic scenes that have become part of culture. But it’s the camaraderie I really love.
Butch and Sundance constantly bicker but have each other’s backs till the dying end. In times of a creative block, I often ask: “what would Butch and Sundance do?". The dreamer and the realist always have an answer. My old creative partner Rob Potts and I once took a sabbatical from Fallon to go on the trail of the real Butch and Sundance. It was supposed to be educational. We we’re supposed to come back and tell the agency all about it. We just arsed about trying to recreate the famous last scene.
Place: Hulme Crescents
How can a monstrosity of a council housing estate that stood for just 21 years be a source of inspiration? It’s all about the story. It was the future of living. It was a fucking catastrophe. I first discovered it in a geography lesson when I was 14. I was transfixed by its terrifying scale and I’ve been captivated ever since. I’m struck by its ambition. Fascinated by its public failure. Saddened by its abandonment. Delighted because it was home to the post-Hacienda venue “the kitchen”.
Terrified by what it became - after only two years, it was deemed unsafe for kids, just seven years later the council stopped charging rent. It ultimately became a bed for bohemia and creativity. I choose my university because it was across the road. I spent lessons staring at it transfixed by its beauty and horror. Anyone with a brain told me it wasn’t safe to visit. I went there. I took photographs. One year later it was torn down.
TV show: Inside No. 9
Put me on the spot right now and I’d say it’s the cleverest things anyone’s ever written for television. If you’re short of inspiration you won’t get more to fill your boots than a self-contained 30-minute episode of Inside No.9. A show that’s known for its killer twists but it’s full of so much more. It’s an endlessly intelligent, moving, challenging, inventive and funny show. Unlike anything else.
Its singular stage-play set up fuses genres and subvert formats. It’s a postmodern unprecedented genius. If you’ve never seen it, start with my personal faves: “12 days of Christine” and “Dead Line” - the awesome “live” Halloween special.
Soundtrack: Horizons by LTJ Bukem
Horizons by LTJ Bukem is my soundtrack choice. Atmospheric, emotional, full wonder and awe. It still sounds like the future, 28 years later.